'Be an ally': CBC forum explores racist blunders, intolerance and how to move forward

1 / 2
'Be an ally': CBC forum explores racist blunders, intolerance and how to move forward

If you've said something racist, admit it. If you don't know why it's racist, Google it. And if you learn why it's racist, speak up.

That was the take-away from Talking on Tiptoes, a recent CBC Asks town hall Q&A on racist blunders, religious intolerance and how to make it right.

"Be an ally, be an ally," said audience member Amelia Wesley. "Do you want to hate for the rest of your life?"

The March 8 event generated frank talk from invited guests and audience members.

There were guilty admissions:

One audience member admitted he once referred to a child who was mauled by a gorilla as "monkey boy." He later learned the boy was black.

"And oh man did I get it," he told the audience. "And it took a bit of an exchange to say 'Yeah, now I see, black kids were called monkeys. And man, am I sorry.'"

There was explanation:

"The big question is 'How would you know?' That's not been part of your life to know that 'monkey boy' is something that would be considered derogatory," CBC Up To Speed host Ismaila Alfa said.

There was confrontation:

"How could you not know that?" CBC Unreserved host Rosanna Deerchild said. "Really, there's a lot of things we should know. And can know. How do we not know about residential school? How do we not know that there are survivors in this room?"

'Google that'

And with that came frank advice: if you really don't understand what you're saying or thinking is wrong, do your research.

"Google that shit, people," Deerchild said. "Come on."

For those who do see racist behaviours in themselves, take the next step and admit it, audience members said.

"Until I can address that in myself and start from that place and say 'I am a racist' … it's there. We have to face that," said Heather Plett, who identified herself as being among the "white privileged."

"When we come to the conversations with that humility, maybe we can get somewhere."

For those who see racist behaviours in others, speak up about it.

"It's important to do that every time their ugly head appears," said Oumar Kinnarath, who recently helped organize a counter-demonstration to a protest of MP Iqra Khalid's anti-Islamophobia motion. "Love is always going to overcome hate."